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Bendtner’s boxers, Theo’s tricks and other odds and ends in the transfer market

Did you see that alliteration. Impressive, no? Right let’s get cracking.

Theo Walcott was on the bench for England last night, with James Milner preferred to him. Yes, I know. Anyway, Milner was rubbish and Theo was great. He came on and scored from the edge of the area with a shot that can only be described as “wicked” [and arguably deflected]. There were a few times when he could have been put through, but a collection of Liverpool players refused to play him in. After some good work on the right he crossed the ball for Danny Welbeck to score the winner with a kind of back-heeled finish. Oxlade-Chamberlain came on as well and was almost set up by Walcott for a goal, but Steven Gerrard decided to steal the chance and just miscue it. Nevertheless, Theo surely showed why he should start ahead of James Milner, although I thought that was obvious already. Anyway, it’s good to see Theo doing well, because not all of the Gunners at the Euros have been doing so well.

Ironically, those doing the best are those who are probably leaving the club. Performing in the shop window maybe? Andrei Arshavin has been a creative hub for Russia and Nicklas Bendtner has been scoring for Denmark. The big Dane is in trouble though [as always], after his “lucky boxers” were shown when he celebrated. They showed two words, which have landed him in hot water. Those two words? Paddy Power. I know it’s silly really. I can understand the problem. If McDonald’s pay x amount of millions to get their brand shown to the millions who watch the Euros, it’s a bit unfair that Paddy Power then gets “advertised” for free. Saying that though, it’s slightly disconcerting that UEFA takes a few days just to investigate claims of racism, but is quick to look into Nicklas Bendtner’s pants. I guess that’s what we’ve come to expect from them though.

Speaking of Nicklas Bendtner, could he be off to Swansea? Michael Laudrup has shown interest in him when at other clubs, so it could be worth watching that one. Abou Diaby has been linked with a move to Fenerbahce, although that could just be agent talk. Johan Djourou has apparently been offered around Italy, with Napoli rumoured to be interested in him. I’ve said before that I think he would do well there. He was good for us before he dislocated his shoulder at Old Trafford and could do well it Serie A, a league where there’s usually a bit more time for defenders.

In other news, Pedro Bothelho will apparently stay in Spain this summer after spending 837 seasons on loan there while waiting for a work permit. Oliver Giroud came off the bench for France yesterday and the general consensus is that he’s more or less ours. Yann M’Vila came off the bench as well and the general consensus is that he’s not ours, although he quite possibly will be. Which is nice.

That’s more or less it news-wise. As always I’m on twitter @SavageGooner and on facebook somewhere as well. Laters.

I’m alive!

As put by one much more eloquent than myself, I’m alive! Which is always quite nice to know Being alive is quite under-rated in my opinion. Anyway, I’m back! I wrote a few pieces over at An Arsenal Story for George or Joe or whatever his name is.

Anyway, I’m back here now and I’ve got a mega-series lined up for you this summer. More on that in the coming days. Just a quick round-up at the moment and it seems as though a deal for Oliver Giroud is nearing fruition thanks to a conveniently placed minimum fee release clause. He could be ours for around 12m euros. Add him to Lukasz Podolski and you’ve much improved attacking options for next season. Saying that though, the deal isn’t done YET. It’s all a bit Juan Mata at the moment so while we can be optimistic of positive news in the next few day, I wouldn’t get Giroud printed on my new shirt just yet. Indeed, it may be that the deal isn’t announced until the Euros are over. What we do know though, is that he’s good in the air and looks to take on shots when he’s on the ball as well as being fairly mobile. If this deal goes through for 12m euros, it may just be a steal.

There’s been talk of M’Vila for a lot of the summer as well and the opinion of those more reputable than myself seems to be that we’re in with a shout, with Inter Milan being the only other main suitors. IF [and  I stress the IF in this sentence] M’Vila signs as well, that is a cracking team. By all accounts, the club are looking at moving on some players with Johan Djourou apparently being looked at by clubs in Italy and Abou Diaby maybe moving on as well.

I’m sure I’ll speak about those in more detail during the summer, but from where I’m sitting we could well be in for a good summer for a change.  Heh. Gazidis out eh?

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’m sure you all missed my blogging so I expect a big party to celebrate my return. Glad that’s sorted.

Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @SavageGooner and I’m likeable on facebook as well if you search for me. I’m not likeable in real life though. Probably. Anyway, that’s it for today. Glad to be back. Slightly.

This is the end, my friend.

Well this is it. If you didn’t see me saying earlier on twitter then this will be the last post on the site.For a while anyway.

I no longer have the time to keep up managing the whole site and blogging on a regular basis as well, so no more. I’m going to back to just being a writer and I’ll be writing for Joey at www.anarsenalstory.co.uk/.

When I started the site in the summer, I never would have dreamed that it would reach a quarter of a million views, so thank you to every one of you who has ever read, commented, RTed, shared, tweeted or anything else to do with the blog. I’m much obliged to every single one of you.

Obviously, I have a number of other people who need thanks [the names link to twitter accounts]. Nick’s rants were a big thing when the blog first started and he was a big help. Big thanks to Ali as well for her short-lived column and Cookie who came in at the same time and has been around ever since.

Brendan has probably been the biggest help with his constant availability to write and he pretty much made the site what it is today. Thomas, Jacqueline and Reuben have also been a great help as well. All of them are worth a follow on twitter.

Once again, thanks to everyone single one of you. As always, you can find me on twitter @SavageGooner.

Goodbye.

Victoria Concordia Crescit – Victory Comes Through Harmony

Arsenal Vs Newcastle – Match Report

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Arsenal defeated Newcastle United 2-1 at the Emirates this evening after a late winning goal from Thomas Vermaelen who secured the Gunners all three points. French midfielder Ben Arfa opened the scoring for Newcastle in the first-half but  Arsenal responded through Robin van Persie shortly after Newcastle took the lead.

Arsène Wenger made one change to the side which defeated AC Milan last week in the Champions League last week, Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta has returned and replaced Gervinho who dropped to the bench for the Gunners. Yossi Benayoun, André Santos, and Aaron Ramsey are all back from injury and the trio were on the bench. Newcastle opted to start Ben Arfa over Papiss Cissé and the French midfielder played behind Newcastle’s alone striker Demba Ba. Former Manchester United winger Gabriel Obertan also started for The Magpies.

Two minutes in to the match Theo Walcott produced a great cross which was perfect to Robin van Persie but the Dutchman could not connect with the cross. The form van Persie’s been in this season you would have expected him to score that chance. Alex Song’s chipped pass was deflected by Cheick Tioté and fell to van Persie which he controlled well but it came off van Persie’s knee and got way from the Arsenal captain.

After a poor pass from Vermaelen which went straight to Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tioté and Demba Ba who played it out wide to French midfielder Ben Arfa who cut in past Gibbs and placed it in to Szczęsny’s bottom corner. It was a great strike from Ben Arfa to give Newcastle the lead. The Gunners responded straight away from the kick-off after Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický found Walcott and the England international’s cross was perfect for van Persie who got past Mike Williamson. And the Dutchman’s effort went past Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal.

Both sides went in at the break level, Newcastle made their first substitute at half-time taking off former Inter Milan fullback Davide Santon for James Perch. Three minutes in to the second-half England international Theo Walcott put a great cross in to the Newcastle box but Tomáš Rosický’s header was straight at Tim Krul.

Newcastle made their second change taking off  Gabriel Obertan for Shola Ameobi. Nine minutes in to the second-half Mikel Arteta’s cross was met by the Arsenal captain but van Persie’s volley was comfortably saved by Krul. After great work from Rosický who won the ball found Walcott and played it back to Rosický. But the midfielder couldn’t get his effort on and target and it sailed wide.

Arsenal took off highly rated England U-21 international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Gervinho midway through the second-half. Shortly after Arsenal made their second change taking off the impressive Tomáš Rosický for Wales captain Aaron Ramsey.

Seven minutes from time Mikel Arteta’s low free-kick went through the whole of Newcastle’s box and fell to Gervinho near the back post but he put his shot wide of the Newcastle goal. Gervinho should have done better but I doubt he was expecting the chance.

In the dying seconds of added time Arsenal had a counter attack, van Persie controlled well on the half-way line and found Alex Song. The midfielder played it out wide to Theo Walcott who had space and crossed it in to the Newcastle box which was going to the Gunners final chance of the game. Ramsey and van Persie both jumped to try to get on the end of Walcott’s cross but both of them missed it and Walcott’s cross fell to Thomas Vermaelen who was free at the back post. Vermaelen finished well to put Arsenal in to the lead in the last seconds of the game.

Quick Match Preview Arsenal Vs Newcastle

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Tomorrow Arsenal take on Newcastle United at the Emirates in the Premiership. The two sides played against each other on the opening day of the season back in August, the match ended in a goalless draw at St James’ Park. The major talking point from the match was Ivory Coast forward Gervinho getting sent off on his Premiership début for the Gunners after an incident with former Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton. Much has change for both sides since then, both have seen players depart and new arrivals come in.

Since the comeback against Tottenham a few weeks ago which saw the Gunners heavily defeat their North London rivals 5-2, Arsenal have gone on to beat Liverpool and AC Milan. You would expect Arsenal to have a lot of confidence ahead of this game because of their good form recently. If Arsenal defeat Newcastle then they will only be one point behind third place Tottenham and it will mean there three-point lead over Chelsea in fifth place will be restored.

Newcastle have been one of the surprised teams this season, they are currently sixth in the Premiership. Alan Pardew has done an excellent job so far this season and one of the main reasons is because of summer signing Demba Ba who has scored sixteen goals for Pardew’s side this season. Former Lille midfielder Yohan Cabaye has formed a good partnership with Cheick Tioté in midfield for Newcastle. Newcastle’s January signing Papiss Cissé has already scored two goals in his first four appearances for The Magpies.

Arsène Wenger has a number of players returning from injury the likes of Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey. French midfielder Abou Diaby will miss out after going off injured against Liverpool last weekend. Brazilian attacking full-back André Santos is available for the Gunners after missing the last four months through injury.

I expect Mikel Arteta will return to the Arsenal starting line-up with the in-form Tomáš Rosický playing behind Robin van Persie. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could both start after recovering from knocks which they got against AC Milan. Yossi Benayoun missed the AC Milan match through illness but has returned to training and could be available for Arsenal tomorrow.

Newcastle are currently missing strikers Peter Lovenkrands, Leaon Best, Sammy Ameobi and Nile Rangers through injury. French midfielder Sylvain Marveaux is also missing for Alan Pardew’s side with a Groin injury. Former England U-21 defender Steven Taylor is ruled out for the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles.

Arsène Wenger is likely to name a midfield trio of Alex Song, Mikel Arteta and Tomáš Rosický. Newcastle normally play 4-4-2 but will Alan Pardew change Newcastle’s formation to match the same amount of midfielders as Arsenal.

Possible Arsenal team – Szczęsny, Gibbs, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Sagna, Song, Arteta, Rosický, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, van Persie.

Bench – Fabiański, Djourou, Jenkinson, Ramsey, Gervinho, Benayoun, Chamakh.

Possible Newcastle team – Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Taylor, Tiote, Cabaye, Jonas, Ba, Cisse .

Prediction – I’m going for an Arsenal win but it being a close game. The Gunners winning 2-1 goals from van Persie and Vermaelen, Ba scoring for Newcastle. I think it depends if Newcastle go with four or five in midfield as well.

You can follow me on twitter @AFC_93.

Podolski Joining Arsenal & Rosicky A New Deal?

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According to the likes of BBC Sport and Sky Sports Arsenal have agreed a deal with Bundesliga club Cologne ‎for German international Lukas Podolski. The deal is reportedly to be £10.9m for the German striker, Podolski will have to pass a medical and agree personal terms with the Gunners before the move is complete.

Podolski has been in great form for Cologne ‎this season scoring sixteen goals for the struggling Bundesliga’s side. His international record is excellent for Germany scoring 45 goals in 95 appearances since making his international début in 2004. Podolski  is expected to be in Joachim Löw’s squad for the Euros this summer.

The Cologne ‎striker normally operates on left for Germany, where as for Cologne ‎he plays as the main centre forward. Podolski shows his versatility being able to play out wide, as the alone striker and even partner someone in a two-man attack. I’ve seen people mention Podolski’s time at  Bayern Munich a lot recently, he’s matured a lot since then according to Germany coach Joachim Löw.

Podolski even said earlier this season he would be tempted to move aboard and Löw said “he (Podolski ) is more capable of making the move abroad“. We’ve seen this season Arsenal haven’t had good enough quality back-up for Robin van Persie in the likes of Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-Young. Podolski would be good back up for the Arsenal captain and when the Dutchman isn’t being rested Podolski is most likely to play out on the left.

Both Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-Young are expected to leave Arsenal in the summer which meant Arsène Wenger would have had to be in the market this summer for a striker. But it seems Arsène Wenger has started his summer spending early this year compared to last summer where the Gunners left it late in August until they made the majority of their purchases. But why has Wenger started his summer spending early this year? Is it to show Robin van Persie the likes of Podolski are the kind of signings Arsenal are looking to make his summer and hope it will convince the Dutchman to sign a deal.

If Arsenal do sign Podolski I hope he is the first of a couple of players joining the Gunners this summer. Podolski is a proven international and an experienced player which pundits and media say Arsenal lack. Last summer Arsenal signed the likes of André Santos, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker who are experienced players could we see the same again this summer?

According to some reports today that Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický could sign a new two year extension. Rosický has been in great form recently and scored his first Premiership goal of the season in the victory over Tottenham. Then Rosický scored again against AC Milan earlier this week and is showing signs of the player he was before his injury problems a few seasons ago.

You can follow me on twitter @AFC_93.

Arsenal vs. Milan Match Report

Arsenal vs. Milan Match Report

Rather surprisingly in the build up to the game there were a lot of confident Arsenal fans. The manager Arsene Wenger said that his team’s challenge was “To make the impossible possible”. Unfortunately Arsenal’s 3-0 win was not enough to get through the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Maybe the impossible was impossible after all, but the players tried their hardest to see if it was. Arsenal’s undoing was not a lack of ability, creativity, effort or some sort of defensive blunder (some times this season all of those have been our undoing) but it was a lack of depth. For the first 45 minutes I saw the most effort I have ever seen from an Arsenal side, Walcott and Chamberlain were running non-stop, Rosicky was dictating the tempo and creating chances. 3-0 up at half-time I was inspired. Unfortunately for Arsenal the human body can only push itself so far and it is safe to say every player in an Arsenal shirt pushed themselves to the max, especially Walcott and Chamberlain who practically sprinted the 18km they covered. A failure to get a fourth came down to pure exhaustion, as soon as Arsenal were forced to bring on Chamakh and Park the game was up. They are both technically gifted but they lacked the 100% determination that the rest of the team had. Even Szczesny looked tired by the end of the game because of the raw emotion everyone on pitch was experiencing. Quite ironically it was Van Persie who wasted our best chance to get a fourth, while Rosicky (who’s scored three goals in the last 18 months) scored and so did Koscielny (who is in fact a defender). This was a ‘defeat’ but to play like that four goals down is quite something, with character like that there is no reason why next season we cannot win the league, all it would take is the sale of Chamakh, Arshavin and Park and a few signings. This result will drive us on to future success, especially Van Persie who missed our chance to go into extra time.

Domir Skomina, the referee was involved in the game before anything of note took place by booking Mark Van Bommel for his first foul. Unfortunately for the match the referee maintained this approach throughout the game. He booked three players in the first 15 minutes, lacked consistency and changed his mind on multiple occasions. In fact there were a number of times he played advantage when the team who had the ball committed the foul. However I did not feel he was biased, despite giving Milan 13 more decisions than  Arsenal (the biggest difference in the Champions League this season). I just felt he did not know the rules well enough to be actively one sided. Fortunately his decisions did not cost anyone the match.

The first goal came eight minutes in, surprisingly from a corner. Koscielny, who was un-marked in the box, headed in the goal. The goal got the crowd going and everyone in north London started to believe the impossible was just improbable.

20 minutes in Van Persie hit one of his trademark long shots, just like the one against Tottenham, forcing a world class save from Christian Abbati. This was followed five minutes later with a rare goal from Rosicky, but boy did he deserve it. It was placed almost perfectly from about 12 yards out. Abbati got a hand to it but that was not enough. The crowd went crazy and the number four was on everyone’s lips.

40 minutes in Arsenal were awarded a penalty after Chamberlain’s run was brought to an end by Mesbah and Nocerino who closed it on him. Then Van Persie hit a perfect penalty and at 3-0 everyone believed Arsenal could get a fourth.

As the half-time whistle blew Arsenal believed they could win, the fans believed they could, even Milan believed Arsenal could win.

Arsenal’s second half performance was decent, with the exception of the defenders who were outstanding, especially Koscielny, he was fantastic. But Arsenal simply ran out of steam. That did not stop them putting in 110%, but they lacked the energy to dictate the play.

Szczesny looked confident, beating Ibrahimovic to a dangerous through ball in the 55th minute.

The 59th minute brought the defining moment of the game. Gervinho went for goal 11 yards out; taking a deflection off the defender it almost beat Abbati. The ball spilled to Van Persie, everyone at the Emirates was on their feet. Surely he would score… but it was not to be. He decided to chip the keeper, who was only two yards in front of him. If he had tried to shoot any other way he would have scored, but no. The keeper, to his credit, saved it. And that was the moment that killed off the belief Arsenal could win. It was like a flashback to Thierry’s one-on-one miss in the 2006 Champions League final.

Van Persie’s confidence hit rock bottom. It was a wake-up call for Milan, only a few minutes later Ibrahimovic pounced on Szczesny’s misplaced pass, fortunately for Arsenal Song won the ball back.

In the 73rd minute Walcott’s determination was demonstrated by his attempt to beat four Milan players, he came close but was eventually dispossessed.

Minutes later Chamberlain had to come off as he was clearly carrying a knock. Disappointingly Chamakh was the Gunners’ best option to replace him.

After Walcott came off there was one last chance for Arsenal when Song won the ball, he attempted a counter-attacking run but appeared too tired to actually move. Knowing this he tried a long ball to Van Persie, something he has succeeded at many times this season, but it was clear something was not right with him as he desperately miss-hit the pass.

That was game over, Arsenal were out of the Champions League. But that was some performance; to beat the reigning champions of Italy 3-0 is quite something, especially for a “club in crisis”.

The disappointment was clear on the players’ faces, Robin’s in particular. Was it all for nothing? No, not by a long shot. The players now know they can still win games, no matter the score. Taking that into the rest of the season, puts Wenger’s men in the perfect position to challenge for third and finish ahead of Tottenham. After tonight, anything can happen.

Written by Thomas Munson, tweet him @Eltomo71

Some more thoughts on the game after Thomas’s summary.

After our last two wins in the league, including the demolition of Spurs, would we be brought down to earth against AC Milan, with the huge task ahead of us after such a poor performance in the away leg?

I think we may have found an Arsenal player that can take a decent corner!  Oxlade-Chamberlain whipped in a great delivery in the 5th minute and Koscielny headed home to give us the start we needed. It has seemed years since we did – even one of my favourite players of all time, Pires struggled to take a decent corner, and it hasn’t improved with the current squad.  Do they practice them in training?  For a long time now we haven’t been able to defend them either so maybe not!  What a player The Ox is; doesn’t seem to have any nerves in the big games, poised on the ball, great pace and control.  As the saying goes, ‘if you are good enough, you are old enough’.  Wenger does seem to want to protect him, but not playing him for a full 90 mins or starting him on the bench.  We shouldn’t be surprised at this as he does do this with young players.  He started in midfield tonight, and I think that could be his future position. Once he went off, mainly from fatigue, we suffered greatly.

The whole team performed at the top of their game last night, especially in the first half, but individuals to pick out apart from Oxlade-Chamberlain were –

Rosicky – another fine game in an Arsenal shirt, rewarded with another goal.  He ran his socks off in midfield.

Walcott – much maligned after his first half against Spurs, and a sometimes frustrating player to watch, our number 14 was excellent last night.

The defence as a whole – we knew we couldn’t concede and boy did they make sure it didn’t happen.  This wasn’t only down to the five at the back (other teams members worked hard as well) but it is nice to give praise to the defence for once, after some what, has to be said, woeful displays this season.

Unfortunately we did run out of steam in the second half;Milanre-grouped after a terrible first half display and our efforts in the first forty-five minutes took their toll.  Once Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott were replaced by Chamakh and Park, unfortunately not like for like, we lost our hold on the game, and a fourth goal looked less likely.  We can take huge pride from this performance, as in the last two league games.  We beat the reigning Italian champions 3-0 and played them off the park in the first half. 

With this momentum I believe we can push on to maintain fourth place, and also catch Spurs in third.   Our remaining away fixtures are at Everton, QPR, Wolves, Stoke and WBA, and I think we can get eleven points from fifteen in those games.  At home we haveNewcastle, Villa,ManCity,Wigan,ChelseaandNorwich.  We should be able to get three points from all but the Man City and Chelsea games, and even then in our current form, there is no reason why we shouldn’t beat those two at home.  I truly believe with the renewed spirit and togetherness we are currently showing, we can put together one of our best run-ins for many seasons and overhaul Spurs for third place.

Follow me on twitter – @shoegirl1968

 

Gibbs On This Season & AC Milan

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Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs says he needs to finish the season of strongly for the Gunners after missing a large part of the season through injury. Gibbs also said he isn’t thinking about England at the moment, at the moment Arsenal is his only priority.

“I have been out for a substantial amount of the season, so I would need to finish strongly and remain injury free,” said Gibbs.

“At the minute, I don’t really think about England because Arsenal have so much to look forward to in the season.

“I would like to finish that strongly and then think about England afterwards.

The English defender also spoke about the defeat to AC Milan last month.

“The whole team was quite hurt by the first leg,” 

“It was a disappointing performance. The pitch was not great, but they had to play on it as well and you have to accept that on the night.”

“You just have to turn up, if you don’t on the night with not the best performance and also no luck, then you have no chance. If you have those two combined, you have no chance of winning. We experienced both of those together and as a result we suffered.”

“But we have shown fantastic mentality to come back in the last couple of games and have created a momentum now and would like to continue that. We have to believe otherwise there is no point in being here. If they can beat us 4-0 then why can’t we do the same?”

“In our last home game, we scored five goals. We have to create a faultless performance and get a good balance between attacking and defending. You don’t accept getting beaten 4-0 in the Champions League and we are looking to restore that pride”

You can follow me on twitter @AFC_93.

AC Milan Preview & Reserves Win

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omorrow evening Arsenal take on Serie A champions AC Milan at the Emirates in the Champions League last sixteen second leg against the Italian league leaders. Last month the Gunners were heavily defeated by AC Milan 4-0 at the San Siro, Robinho scored a brace, former Tottenham midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng opened the scoring for Milan and Zlatan Ibrahimović also converted a penalty. Arsène Wenger has seen his side come from behind in recent weeks against the likes Tottenham and Liverpool in the Premiership and defeat them both. But the Gunners will need to win by five goals tomorrow if they want to progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League. It sounds almost impossible, Arsène Wenger described his side having a five per cent chance of qualifying.

The latest injury news for the Gunners is that Yossi Benayoun, Abou Diaby and Mikel Arteta are all out of the AC Milan tie. Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický has been rated as doubtful for the match tomorrow with a groin injury but Rosický did train today and hopefully will be available to start tomorrow. Arsenal are also still missing Per Mertesacker, André Santos, Aaron Ramsey, Sébastien Squillaci, Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin through injury.

Reserve midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup trained with the first-team today and is expected to be on the bench for the Gunners tomorrow after missing the Reserves win against Chelsea Reserves earlier on today. I expect the three behind Robin van Persie tomorrow will be Gervinho on the left, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain central behind the Dutchman and England international Theo Walcott on the right.

Possible Arsenal team – Szczęsny, Gibbs, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Sagna, Song, Rosický, Gervinho, Walcott, Chamberlain, van Persie (C).

Bench – Fabiański, Jenkinson, Miquel, Djourou, Özyakup, Chamakh, Park.

In other news Arsenal Reserves defeated Chelsea Reserves 2-0 this afternoon which meant Neil Banfield’s side have won their last four straight Reserve games. Goals came from the returning Chuks Aneke and former Barcelona Youth player Hector Bellerin scoring on his Reserve début. Arguably Arsenal’s standout player was Serge Gnabry causing Chelsea all sorts of problems, Damian Martinez made a number of fine saves to deny Chelsea from scoring as well.

The loan window does not shut until 24 March, I expect another loan move for Chuks Aneke could be on the cards. Other players like Nico Yennrias and Özyakup could also still go out on loan.

You can follow me on twitter @AFC_93.

Match Report: Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal

 After the marvellous comeback the previous week against Tottenham, Mr. Wenger decided to go for the same starting XI, and you can’t blame him. However, the match against Liverpool highlighted our consistency to lack consistency, as we offered very little for the majority of the game. Having said that, it is unrealistic to expect a performance as good as the one against Spurs every week, and as long as we keep picking up the points, I don’t mind about the performance! The end justifies the means, eh?

We began this match in a similar fashion to the Spurs game – nervous on the ball, not retaining possession. It soon became clear that Suarez was on form, and our centre back partnership of Koscielny and Vermaelen were having some difficulty in containing him. Our defence were very exposed and were being penetrated at will.

After 8 minutes, however, a long, searching ball by Arteta found Walcott, whose first time shot was well saved by Reina. Two minutes later, a long ball by the Liverpool keeper evaded Koscielny, and Suarez was through. Luckily for Arsenal, Szczesny read the situation and headed away. His clearance fell to Steward Downing, who thankfully fluffed his lines.

Then, after 18 minutes, an intricate one-two between Suarez and Kuyt put the Uruguayan striker through on goal. He rounded the keeper, and inevitably went down. Penalty to Liverpool, and for the second week running, we have been the victim of a dive in the area. Kuyt, after his heroics in Liverpool’s Carling Cup victory, stepped up.

SAVED! Szczesny dived the right way and palmed the ball out. The rebound fell to the Dutch striker again, who had the chance to redeem himself. Unbelievably, he miss-hit the ball and our Polish no.1 clawed the it away. Somehow, somehow, it was still 0-0.

However Szczesny’s magic was undone within a matter of minutes. An incisive Liverpool counter-attack exploited our left side, with Gibbs nowhere to be seen. Henderson whipped the ball in, for Laurent Koscielny to inexplicably turn into his own net. Hard to take, but certainly a deserved lead.

Two minutes later, it could so easily have been 2-0. Charlie Adam brushed past a feeble block from Arteta, and played it into Kuyt. With a man over to his right, the unselfish Dutchman rolled it across, and Henderson’s firm side footed shot was palmed away by an outstretched Szczesny. The ball fell to Suarez, who, with the goal at his mercy, hit the woodwork. An almighty let off.

However as the saying goes, if you don’t take your chances, you’ll be punished. And how. After 30 minutes, a magnificent, Beckham – esq. cross from Sagna found Van Persie, who got in front of Carragher to head home. 1-1, and out of nowhere, The Gunners had equalised.

Ten minutes later, the ball fell to Suarez on the edge of the Arsenal box. The striker supremely wriggled his way past 3 Arsenal defenders, only for his tame, but accurate shot to be pushed away by the outstretched figure of Wojeich Szczesny. It seemed destined to nestle in the back of the net, but yet again the Polish keeper came to the rescue.

The storm was still not over. Deep into first half stoppage time, an inviting cross in from the left was deftly flicked towards goal from the onrushing Kuyt, but yet again, Arsenal were saved by the post. The referee blew for half time, and to be on level terms at the break was nothing short of a miracle for The Gunners!

Not long into the second half, a nasty collision left Arteta poleaxed. Abou Diaby came on, although later was substituted himself after picking up another niggle. Got to feel sorry for him.

Then, once again, Liverpool squandered a magnificent opportunity. Kuyt crossed in, and the ball went all the way across to the young full back Martin Kelly, who missed his kick from a few yards out. Surely they’d rue these missed chances?

A defence splitting through ball by who else but Alex Song found Gibbs, whose pull back fell to Walcott. His shot took a deflection and Reina managed to keep it out – Theo should have buried it. A warning sign for Liverpool.

Then. Then. In the second minute of injury time, Song’s delightful chip found RvP. Guess what happened next?

2-1.

Scenes of delirium ensued in the away end. A smash and grab if there ever was one. A truly marvellous assist and finish – a carbon copy to what we saw earlier this season against Everton. We held on, and ensured 6 points from our games versus Spurs and Liverpool, against all the odds. A fantastic two weeks, and all I can say is; Wham, Bam, Thankyou Van.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @rlewisafc

Till next time.

Second opinion by James Cook (@CookieElGooner)

Liverpool fans might say they were robbed in the game at the weekend, and in fact, it’s fair to say you wouldn’t disagree with them. It was an average Arsenal performance which lacked the sumptuous pass and move football we saw against a below par Sp*rs side the previous week and on another day we might have seen an inquest from the fans and the impulsive media over why we played so badly against the ‘racists’.

However … we picked up yet another 3 points! Van Persie had just two shots on targets in the whole match but ended up scoring two goals, once again proving why he’s probably the best striker in the world.

 As much as I respect the Arsenal God (Dennis Bergkamp), duh who else?! I disagree with him (I’m probably going to hell for this) regading Van Persie, if RVP was to retreat into a second striker or a playmaker role then we wouldn’t see the same intelligence of movement he shows as a central striker, how many times do we see him score from inside the 6 yard box? pic.twitter.com/jakRDETM

This image shows how deep Van Persie had to come to recieve the ball. On the rare occassion he did recieve a forward pass in the final third, he ended up scoring two goals, both from long passes.

There are advantages and disadvantages, he would be able to utilise his long range shooting ability and great vision but at the moment we dont have a striker who could score half the goals he does, something which should be urgently addressed in the Summer with Podolski a potential signing.

Players like Rosicky, Benayoun and Walcott were all nullified by Liverpool throughout the game and therefore we found it very difficult to retain possession. The three mentioned are all players who thrive on having lots of space, especially the latter and it seemed to be one of those days in which the whole team forgets to play football. Oh yeah, bar Van Persie.

The fact of the matter is we could’ve been at least 3-0 down at half time, Koscielny was experiencing the rarity of a poor performance and at times looked like the player who’d arguably cost us a Carling Cup trophy our opponents had won the week before. Sir Chesney was certainly keeping our hopes alive  and that penalty save after Luis Suarez experienced an unfortunate ‘spasm’ when one on one with the Great Pole was brilliant. Sorry what was that, he didn’t spasm I hear you say? He dived? Never! I’m sorry but that’s just ludicrous, poor Luis Sua . . .Cannibal.

I thought Sagna had a fantastic game yesterday, it seems the thrashing at Sp*rs has really given him the confidence to bounce back from injury and a goal and assist in two games has put the doubters about his attacking play (including me) to bed for the time being. Gibbs has also had a positive impact since coming back into the side and with a run of games seems like he can be as destructive going forward as Gareth Ape down the road.

When the two full backs push forward we often see either Alex Song or Mikel Arteta stay back, adding a bit more security in case the opposition break. This sees Arsenal end up playing something like a 3-3-3-1, a strange formation to look at numerically but one which gives Arsenal extra fluidity and zest. Van Persie’s average position during the Liverpool match was beside Rosicky in front of the half way line with Walcott often as high up as Liverpool’s defensive line in between Skrtel and Enrique.

Overall I think we were quite lacklustre and in previous weeks we may have seen the teams crumble into oblivion. However this Arsenal side has shown they have a steel backbone after all highlighted by the comeback against Tottenham and Liverpool, if we can keep up our consistency then no doubt we should end up finishing 3rd. Do Arsenal have the mettle and resilience to do this? No doubt we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks starting with what will be the greatest comeback of Arsene Wengers career on Tuesday night, personally I’d rather focus on the league instead of putting out a full strength side, but after all “Arsene knows!”

Till next time Gooners, may the cannon be with you.